Sunday was Valentine's Day, and everyone was talking about their sweetheart, or lack thereof. I have been lucky enough to be married to a handsome and dear man for 19 years now, but it wasn't until we began to learn about God's love that I started to truly appreciate him.
Our marriage was challenging from the beginning. I was young. He was angry. I became bossy. He became angrier. We were set to self-destruct and barely survived, thanks only to our stubbornness. Neither one would leave the house in the possession of the other. I chuckle now when I think of the fights we had trying to force, beg, or cajole the other to leave.
Finally, unable to endure the pain we were inflicting on each other, God got a hold of us. I cannot speak for my husband, but I know I had gotten to a place of helplessness and hopelessness. I didn't know how to leave, but I really didn't know how to stay, either. I had been hurt, but really the worst of it was how much I had hurt him. Our love had become a twisted knot of pain.
Elsewhere I have written about my husband's ultimatum, "We go to church or get a divorce," but having been exposed to church all my life, I was sure God would not or could not help. God always seemed stand-offish. What could he know about this pain? How could he understand how hard love was?
In his letter to the followers of Jesus in Rome, Paul stated, "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
Guess God knew a little.
Love is costly. It is not about what I get but surrendering, even giving when it hurts. Setting my selfish desires aside and opening my mind to the possibility that he might be right, that he might want to love me, that I might be wrong in the way I approached being a wife, that I might have been foolish to write off God, that he might have an idea that might work, that he was hurting as much as I was, that I loved him more than I knew, that he loved me more than I could understand. Sometimes love requires us to go beyond what seems reasonable, to be kinder than I think I have to be, to be gentler than he deserves, to apologize more than I think I should, to tell him how I admire him more often than I want. Love is putting it on the line when the return is questionable. Love is not earned. God's love is given when least deserved but most needed. God loved me when I had done nothing lovable. Why could I not try to love my husband, if for no other reason than that God put him in my life as my husband for a reason?
I am so glad I took that challenge (even tho I thought I would win and that he would find out church people are even more screwed up than we already were and I could smugly roll my eyes at his foolishness). I tell the people who ask how we overcame our challenges, "We have done all sorts of counseling over the years, but Jesus is the BEST marriage counselor!"
And nothing, absolutely nothing, is sexier than my husband talking about God because I know that not only is he caring for me in this life, but he is looking after my eternal soul as well.
My dearest husband-
I love you, and I hope we have many more years to share this love
as we walk in God's love!